“It’s my job to make sure our facility has the steel product we need, when it’s needed, with the quality we specify, and at the best price possible,” states Randy Schiefer, Purchasing Manager of TKS Industrial, the leading builder of high technology painting systems for automotive assembly plants in North America. “But our painting systems are designed and built custom to the order, so I don’t stock a lot of raw material. And even If I could, it would be wasteful. After all, that’s what JIT is for . . . except when JIT is wasteful.”
The Frederick Steel Division of Benjamin Steel Company has been Schiefer’s go-to supplier of structural steel for the last 20 years and routinely supplies the TKS Columbus, Ohio facility on a JIT basis. One day Dee Slone, Frederick’s inside sales professional for the TKS Industrial account, saw a quote request come in from Schiefer for structural tube and angle at an odd length: 27 feet. “Our stock lengths for angles are 20 and 40 feet, and 24 and 48 feet for the tube – pretty much like everyone else,” explains Slone. “I didn’t like the idea of quoting 40 foot lengths, delivering them on a JIT basis, then having my customer cut their 27 foot section and have 13 feet of scrap left from each piece. Too wasteful.”
Slone called Schiefer to find out the absolute ‘must have’ delivery for the material. The reason? If there was enough time, and the volume was sufficient, she wanted to do a special mill buy of product as close to the 27’ length as she could. “Go for it!” urged Schiefer.
Slone was able to work with a tube mill to get lengths of 27.5’ and have them delivered in time to meet TKS’ need. “Frederick Steel stocked them for us and delivered them as I requested releases,” recalls Schiefer. “So for each piece of tube we had just 6 inches of scrap, instead of 13 feet. I figure that special mill buy saved TKS Industrial about $25,000. I guess it actually cost Frederick Steel a bit – after all, they sold us less total steel. But that’s the thing with Frederick Steel – they value the relationship and want to keep it solid by doing the right thing for us. That’s why they’ve been supplying us for 20 years.”